By Corey Quinto-
Based on the bestselling novel by Harper Lee, this 1962 classic centers on lawyer Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) as he takes on the most difficult task of defending an African American prisoner at a time when racism was still very significant down south in the 1930s. The film captures the time and subject matter beautifully through its rich storytelling and its incredible performance by Gregory Peck. Peck’s portrayal of Atticus Finch has gone down as the greatest performance in cinema history because of his commitment to take on one of the most controversial cases that a lawyer could face.
Atticus Finch, a Caucasian man, has to defend Tom Robinson, an African American prisoner. Finch does everything possible to protect his client’s freedom and restore his independence in the courtroom while the town of angry and racist protesters, led by their leader Bob Ewell, picket outside in the streets.
One interesting fact was the extreme importance the set designers placed on replicating the courthouse. The set was designed after the Monroe County Courthouse in Monroeville, Alabama, Harper Lee’s hometown. Today, the courthouse still exists but not for actual court proceedings. Instead, it is now used for theatrical performances by local actors.
Another little known fact is that the character of Atticus Finch was loosely based on Harper Lee’s father, Amasa Lee. Lee, who was a defense attorney, represented a black client in 1923. The similarities are very interesting and there appear to be many parallels between Harper Lee and his famous main character.
To Kill a Mockingbird is an American classic film and Atticus Finch was named the greatest movie hero of the 20th century. Still instrumental in English literature as well as U.S. History classrooms today, the classic will continue to live on. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards and winner of three, which include Best Actor: Gregory Peck, Best Adapted Screenplay: Horton Foote, and Best Art Direction: Henry Bumstead, Alexander Golitzen and Oliver Emert.
In all, To Kill a Mockingbird has been ranked as the greatest courtroom drama and still holds its spot as one the top fifty-four best legal films of all time.